May 15, Swansea and Edinburgh
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Comments on the Wales Question Time:
Audience question: Sarah Lawson's parents couldn't get help no matter how hard they tried, so she tried to kill herself. What can be done to improve services for such vulnerable people? You said:
If we truly want to be a caring and compassionate society we must do away with charging elderly and disabled people for non-residental care services - charging people because they have additional needs due to their age or disability does not make for a fairer and just society. I am happy to pay more income tax if it means that we as a society become more compassionate.
I'd just like to say that on the issue of Sarah Lawson, it is a real tragedy and sadly a reflection of the state of mental health care in this country that Sarah did not receive the care and understanding from the Health Service that she so desperately needed.
Audience question: The Assembly administration is continually citing lack of powers. Should the Assembly be given the same power as enjoyed by Scotland? You said:
If extra powers for the Welsh Assembly are ever under serious consideration, it would be outrageous if there were not a referendum on the issue. Any referendum should also give people the option of getting rid of the Assembly altogether. Plaid would be in for a nasty shock.
Do you agree that the Welsh Assembly was only meant for south Wales? The majority of people in north Wales did not want an Assembly as it is seen to be detrimental. It takes longer to get to Cardiff than it takes to get to London! The issue of tax raising powers and increasing top band tax, well the rich will just move out of Wales.
Audience question: How can Plaid Cymru expect to secure votes in the forthcoming election when their leader is unwilling to stand for parliament?
Audience question: Are you worried about the possible brain drain caused by your plans to raise income tax?
Audience question: William Hague has stated that he'd take 6p off a litre of petrol. We'd like to know, what is Plaid Cymru's stance on this?
Audience question: Is Plaid Cymru relevant in a modern multicultural Wales in the light of Simon Glyn's racist and xenophobic remarks? You said:
I was very disappointed with the way that Mr Jones dealt with questions about Simon Glyn's comments during his previous appearane on Question Time. This time however, his performance was much improved, dealing with questions on a wide range of issues in a confident and assured manner. It would appear that he is gradually becoming the talented party leader that those who elected him believed that he could be.
Audience question: What do you intend to do to stop GM food trials in Wales? You said:
It was very disappointing that the single question about environment was left to very near the end and Mr Jones was encouraged to be brief (he clearly wanted more time). The climate change issue demands much more attention and should not have been hustled into a tiny tail-end slot in the programme.
Audience question: When will Plaid Cymru take the question of legalising cannabis seriously as Wales desperately needs it addressed? You said:
If the British government decided not to legalise cannabis, would the Welsh assembly be allowed to legalise it? This would cause smuggling between England and Wales, which could not be stopped - having a serious effect on English law.
General comments on the programme:
After hearing of your policies and your programme tonight with a hostile chair - along with the excellent record of your outstanding predecessor - my question is when are Plaid going to run in English constituencies? We need a really radical alternative.
I am an English person living in the West Midalnds and have no political bias whatsoever regarding Plaid Cymru but was interested to hear the party's views. However, David Williams constant interrupting, taking over the debate, asking pointless questions and making totally irrelevant comments have annoyed me to the point I've left the room!
Ieuan Wyn Jones handled himself in a sensible and exemplary fashion. The presenter on the other hand was irritating, rude and held up the flow of conversation. He is surely meant to facilitate not control and contradict everything and everyone. Bring back Mr Dimbleby!
As a Welshman living in England I was heartened by your comments on the programme tonight. Please let me know how I can contribute to the cause...keep up the good work.
I felt that the presenter on Question Time took a negative standpoint throughout the programme - did not allow Ieuan Wyn Jones to fully answer questions put to him - twisted responses and generally provided a cross on which the Plaid leader should have crucified himself. In his defence I believe the way he handled the questions was exemplary and he has changed my voting stance.
As an English person who lives and owns a business in Wales I find many of the comments made by the Leader of Plaid Cymru during Question Time very concerning. Not only from the point of view that I could end up paying 50% tax but also that I could be forced to spend valuable resources (which could be spent on employing another Welsh person) in implementing a Welsh Language scheme which is very unlikely to be funded by the Assembly. I for one would certainly strongly consider moving across the bridge.
Comments on the Scotland Question Time:
Audience question: You can't form the next UK government. You probably won't hold the balance of power and you can't be any more than an irritation to the main UK parties. Why vote SNP? You said:
In reference to Stuart Linsley's point I ask one question. Are we so uniquely moronic that we are incapable of managing ourselves? Is Scotland populated by dense halfwits? Yes, the Central belt might suffer for a while but seriously is it not already suffering under Labour and the Unionist cowards?
As a member of the audience tonight I got very annoyed in that no-one mentioned that the financial institutions based in Scotland have already stated that the outflow of money from Scotland far outreaches that that comes in. Forget the oil! No one mentioned all those pre-devolution threats re head offices etc (some of which have been moved) but many of which are still here. It rather saddened me that John Swinney (who did rather well I thought for a first time) did not appear to have been briefed quite well enough.
John Swinney keeps refering to Scotland's oil wealth. This will run out in the forseeable future, leaving Scotland with a few well to do's in the Central Belt, lots of trees of such marginal quality that no-one wants them, lots of sheep here but for the grace of EU subsidies, a fishing industry with no stocks and a tourism industry led by a group of people who couldn't organise a 'day trip' in a whisky factory.
The SNP are being criticised for putting forward "unknown" people as candidates for Westminster election, how many of the last election's Labour candidates were household names.
If Scotland is so dependant and such a drain on UK resources why are the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative parties so afraid of a vote for SNP. Could be that Scotland is in fact a wealthy nation more than capable of going it alone.
Talking of oil revenue as major contribution to Scottish ecomomy, would whisky tax and possible air freight taxes not have significant contribution to income to Scotland?
Would John Swinney please answer the questions about the "Independent Scottish Economy" and stop repeating the same mantra about contributing more than we get back from England. How can we base an economy on a finite and volatile resource such as oil?
I am intrigued by what Mr Swinney means by 'squandering' of the North Sea revenues? If by that, does he mean solely that revenues have gone to England? If so, how can he argue against monies that go to English companies that then in turn employ thousands of Scots in Scotland? Surely that prosperity would then be put at risk?
Audience question: According to today's Scotsman only ¼ of all Scots want Scotland to become independent. What do you hope to do to change that? You said:
I think if the SNP promised the people of an independent Scotland an instant Scottish general election with Labour the probable winner it would speed the process up. It will otherwise take a hell of a long time to convince the masses in the south west not to vote for Labour. I want an independent Scotland soon, I do not care who is in power. I say this safe in the knowledge that we would never be daft enough as to vote for the Tories.
I have constantly heard tonight how Scotland has paid more to the UK than it has received from the UK government. Surely Scotland is still part of the UK?
After a long period of Scotland receiving money from the rest of the UK, money going the other way seems to be an argument for independence. If Scotland will only remain part of the UK if it receives money, why should the rest of the UK want Scotland to remain a member?
If the Scottish and Welsh are that desperate for independence, let them have it. Then we can reduce the immense tax burden on the English taxpayer. The money saved can be spent on our infrastrucure and not wasted on regional subsidies!
Wouldn't a parliament in a country a third the size of the UK be easier to run than one main parliament in London?
On the whole I was impressed by your defence for Scottish nationalism. However, you appear to make no reference to the lessons to be learnt from history, and the fact, that in virtually every avenue in life, Scotland has produced the world's greatest by the grace of God! Our's is an extraordinary nation.
I was disappointed to see that so many Scots are still lacking in the self-confidence to support an independent Scotland.
Independence under the SNP would be the road to ruin.
Audience question: Being a Welshman living in Scotland with a north of England accent I would like to know what your party's going to do to look at the racism issue towards the English? You said:
I was in the audience in Edinburgh and asked a question about citizenship for (in this case English) minorities. It may appear obvious to SNP supporters that it is an inclusive party, but it is not always clear to the English who live here that we are considered valid participants in the debate over the future of Scotland (as shown by David Rankin's comments below). That said, I was genuinely impressed by John Swinney's defence tonight, and do not consider the Scots or the SNP racists. I just think that many of the basic nuts and bolts issues of independence have not been adequately thought through and London is often used as a convenient scapegoat.
Having spent two miserable years in the south west of Scotland, you claim that anti-English racism is not a part of the makeup of the SNP in that area. Scratch the surface of the party from Ayr to Dumfries and anti-Englishness will raise its ugly head. I went to live in Scotland believing in the Scottish people and returned after two years, saddened and disillusioned.
I am the candidate that John Swinney was referring to during the debate tonight on the question of ethnic minority candidates. How many ethnic minority candidates do the other paries have standing in Scotland? There have to be more black politicians so that the black communities feel that politics is also relevant to them and that they can be a part of the democratic decision-making process in Scotland.
I was yet again most disappointed to see that two people from an ethnic minority continued to harangue John Swinney tonight (as they probably will other leaders) on their perceived lack of special consideration for "ethnic minority" issues. I am English, have lived in Scotland for 17 years, have no issues with race and certainly have no problem in being represented by Scots at either Council level, Holyrood or Westminster.
There is an undeniablly strong anti-English feeling in Scotland. The question is not if this exists but why it exists? The SNP can do a lot to disperse this feeling by promoting Scottish confidence in themselves. Stop talking about oil revenues all the time and start talking about other assests, such as our education facilities, our whisky industry, our scottish beef industry etc. Scotland can never be an exeptionally rich country but we can be a strong independent, confident country if we put our hearts and minds to it.
Audience question: Should pop stars of film stars promote political parties?
Audience question: Your party's policy is obviously to sign up the euro when economic conditions are right and right for Scotland. Is this not simply surrendering rule by London to rule from Brussels and Frankfurt? You said:
If Scotland becomes independent why should England ever again be in any union with Scotland (ie the EU)?
Why after Scottish independence should England allow 2m to 3m Scots to continue to live in England without being subject to the normal immigration rules for foreign non-EU citizens? Mr Swinney seems to think EU entry for Scotland would be almost automatic. I for one would be against it and I think he has under-estimated the opposition from other countries with seperatist problems.
Audience question: How does the SNP propose to fund its 10p cut in fuel tax?
Audience question: If we did achieve independence in Europe would we have to send our own representative to the Eurovision Song Contest?
General comments on the programme:
What a refreshing change it was to hear John Swinney, he was very lucid, and came across as a sincere and truthful politician - a rare treat and an example messrs Blair and Hague could learn from.
The programme with John Swinney was both lively and highly enjoyable - made Blair and Hague look shallow and vacuous in comparison.
We could do with John Swinney south of the border.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and thought that the questions and arguments
were of great interest.
The idea of Question Time is exactly that - ask questions and receive answers. I believe that the audience were intent on voicing their own opinions in a vociferous fashion - not in the normal Question Time manner. These individuals should have been controlled by a strong presenter.
I didn't realise that the English were so concerned about the future of Scotland. Why were there so many English people there? They couldn't be concerned about losing the oil revenues that have propped up the UK economy for the last 20 years, could they?
I have just watched Question Time and am absolutely appalled at Anne McKenzie's handling of the programme. Every time John Swinney got a positive reaction from the audience she interrupted his answer. I hope this is not going to become a trend in this election campaign.
I feel tonight's show was a bit of a rabble. I wanted to get to the heart of the SNP's policies but found that most of the questions that were aired were weak. They focussed on racism as though racism was an SNP policy. They focussed on why the SNP are standing which is absolutely absurd! They are a political party that need to stand in order to win independence. This is typical of the weak questions asked.
I was not impressed. Alex Salmond would have batted those questions aside and appeared more at ease. Impressions count to people, regardless of what is said or how convincingly, and unfortunately Mr Swinney comes across as a "man in a grey suit". Rather stilted, and despite having facts at his fingertips, he just sounded the same message continuously. Not very slick or imaginative.
Well done to John Swinney on answering the question on nuclear weapons in Scotland when the presenter thought that a question about the Eurovision Song contest was more important to the people of Scotland. I was appalled that the presenter tried to stop Mr Swinney from answering.
I was shocked by the avoidance of certain questions by the presenter (not the politician John Swinney) this evening! The most blatant of which, was the reluctance to allow John Swinney to answer a question about revenue used for nuclear weapons.
Mr Swinney, we thought you were a leading example and a bright light for Scotland 's future democracy. We wish you and the SNP every success for the future of Scotland.
I'm appalled at the conduct of Anne McKenzie and suggest it would be fairer if next time you invited somebody of a more neutral disposition to conduct proceedings - Helen Liddell springs to mind.
Well done, John. A very credible and creditable performance, and that's from a Scottish member of the Labour Party.
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